USA — Medal of Honor Recipient Inducted Into Hall Of Heroes

WASHINGTON — A Pen­ta­gon cer­e­mo­ny today for­mal­ly inscribed the name of Army Spe­cial Forces Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, who yes­ter­day was award­ed a posthu­mous Medal of Hon­or, onto the nation’s list of mil­i­tary heroes.

Medal of Honor ceremony for U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller
Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates address­es the audi­ence dur­ing a Medal of Hon­or cer­e­mo­ny for U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller at the Pen­ta­gon, Oct. 7, 2010. Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma posthu­mous­ly award­ed Miller the nation’s high­est hon­or for his hero­ic actions on Jan. 25, 2008, in Afghanistan where Miller sac­ri­ficed his life to save the lives of his team­mates and 15 Afghanistan sol­diers.
DOD pho­to by Cherie Cullen
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In Jan­u­ary 2008, Miller, at age 24, died in action in Afghanistan, charg­ing the ene­my through a hail­storm of bul­lets to give 22 oth­er sol­diers a chance to sur­vive. Today, Miller’s fam­i­ly, team­mates, and friends gath­ered at the Pen­ta­gon along­side the U.S. military’s most-senior lead­ers to hon­or their fall­en son’s life, hero­ism and courage. 

Today’s Pen­ta­gon cer­e­mo­ny marked Miller’s entry into the building’s Hall of Heroes, where his name and the details of his ser­vice will join those of oth­er Medal of Hon­or recipients. 

Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates praised Miller’s brav­ery and sac­ri­fice, and the sac­ri­fice of Phil and Mau­reen Miller, the fall­en soldier’s parents. 

“Every evening I write notes to the fam­i­lies of young Amer­i­cans — as I did to the Millers — who have giv­en this coun­try the supreme sac­ri­fice,” Gates said. “They are our country’s best, the nation’s sons and daugh­ters, who answered the call of ser­vice to defend this coun­try in a time of war.” 

Ser­vice­mem­bers such as Miller, Gates said, had “answered what Theodore Roo­sevelt described as ‘the trum­pet call,’ which he said: ‘Is the most inspir­ing of all sounds, because it sum­mons men to spurn all ease and self-indul­gence and bids them forth to the field where they must dare and do and die at need.’ ” 

“Rob [Miller] was one who answered that trum­pet call, one who also pos­sessed that extra mea­sure of courage and deter­mi­na­tion to be at the very tip of the spear in America’s wars,” the sec­re­tary said. 

Gates also recount­ed the medal’s his­to­ry and meaning. 

“Over the past cen­tu­ry, it has gone only to the bravest of the brave, with few­er than a thou­sand recip­i­ents out of the mil­lions of Amer­i­cans who have served in uni­form dur­ing that time,” Gates said. “It goes to those who demon­strate excep­tion­al brav­ery in the face of ene­my fire. But it also demands some­thing more of an indi­vid­ual: The knowl­edge that by embark­ing on a course of action, los­ing one’s life is not only pos­si­ble, it is quite likely.” 

Dur­ing Army Sec­re­tary John M. McHugh’s remarks at the cer­e­mo­ny, he described Miller’s inter­ests in gym­nas­tics, bas­ket­ball, his­to­ry, lan­guages and the mil­i­tary as he was grow­ing up. Lat­er, as a young Green Beret, Miller brought his char­ac­ter­is­tic inten­si­ty, enthu­si­asm, lead­er­ship and ded­i­ca­tion to the job, the Army sec­re­tary said. 

“He was fun­ny, gen­er­ous, pas­sion­ate and deter­mined,” McHugh said of Miller. “He was some­one we would all have liked to know … a life that while too short, was a life of extra­or­di­nary measure.” 

Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. said dur­ing the cer­e­mo­ny that Miller’s life offered “a glimpse of what is best about our coun­try.” And watch­ing Miller’s par­ents, broth­ers and sis­ters inter­act, Casey said, made it clear how the young man had turned out to be so extraordinary. 

“Each of them had a role in mak­ing Robert the man that he was,” Casey said. 

The Millers accept­ed a Medal of Hon­or flag on their fall­en son’s behalf, and unveiled the plaque bear­ing his name that will be dis­played in the Hall of Heroes. 

Phil Miller spoke of his son before the ceremony’s conclusion. 

“Robert loved what he was doing very much,” Miller said. “He was proven to be very good at what he was doing. And there was no ques­tion that he was con­fi­dent he was fight­ing and serv­ing for a good cause.” 

Miller said his son was a nor­mal, active, mis­chie­vous boy while grow­ing up. 

“My wife and I believe he is a great exam­ple of what America’s youth can do, and how well they can per­form, when they’re giv­en the respon­si­bil­i­ty and the oppor­tu­ni­ty to do so,” he said. 

“We miss him terribly.” 

Miller’s actions in Afghanistan as weapons sergeant for Com­pa­ny A, 3rd Bat­tal­ion, 3rd Spe­cial Forces Group have been much-pub­li­cized since the award of his medal was announced in Sep­tem­ber. But a few days before the Jan­u­ary 25, 2008, ambush where Miller gave his life, he and a team­mate had talked about how they want­ed to be remembered. 

In an inter­view before this week’s cer­e­monies, Staff Sgt. Nicholas McGar­ry said dur­ing that con­ver­sa­tion, Miller had told him he want­ed to be remem­bered for how he had lived, and not how he died. As the two sin­gle guys on the team, McGar­ry recalled that he and Miller hung out togeth­er, and rode moun­tain bikes after work. 

“He was incred­i­bly joy­ful – a moti­vat­ed, ener­getic per­son,” McGar­ry said of his depart­ed friend. “Just a good friend to have around, because he always want­ed to do some­thing. He was always in a good mood –- kind of a play­ful spir­it, I guess.” 

McGar­ry said he thinks about Miller every day. 

“He was a good friend,” McGar­ry said. “But if it was­n’t for him, I would­n’t be here.” 

Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma yes­ter­day pre­sent­ed the Medal of Hon­or posthu­mous­ly to Miller’s par­ents dur­ing a cer­e­mo­ny held in the East Room of the White House. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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